Indiana lawmaker introduces “Death With Dignity” bill

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INDIANAPOLIS (WANE)- If you had a terminal illness, would you choose to end your life on your own terms?

It is not an easy thing to talk about, but one state lawmaker wants the option on the table for Hoosiers.

Right now, a handful of states including California, Vermont, and Oregon have a Death With Dignity law in place. Those are other words for physician-assisted suicide.

Oregon’s law has been on the books since 1997.

State Representative Matt Pierce, a Democrat from Bloomington, said he wants Hoosiers to be able to choose to die while they still have their dignity and their wits about them.

42-year old Corey Polen, of Brownsburg, lives his life one day at a time. Diagnosed in March 2016, he lives with the neurological disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Polen said, “Essentially it’s like your spinal cord [be]coming disconnected from your brain.” He’s thankful for the good days he has.

Polen explained, “Definitely some rough moments, but each day is a new day. You try to enjoy each day you have with your family and friends.”

He said there’s no cure, and he knows it’s terminal. The Center for Disease Control said people living with ALS, eventually lose the ability to speak, eat, move or even breathe. Which is why Polen said he’d like the option of a “death with dignity” law for he and his family.

“…give me the comfort to know that they might not see me in very bad situations,” Polen explained.

That’s part of the reason why Democrat State Rep. Matt Pierce announced Thursday, his “Death With Dignity” bill for people with 6 months to live.

Pierce explained “…Have a medication prescribed that will allow them to die with dignity and humanity by self-administering the medication as opposed to having to suffer through the pain and agony of a slow and prolonged death.”

Pierce said under his bill, there are a host of safeguards.

For example, the patient’s written request would need to be witnessed by two people who could verify mental competence. There’d be a 15-day waiting period, doctors involved, and the offering of other options to name a few.

Pierce said, “This is not a Dr. Kevorkian situation where someone is hooking up a machine to people. This is an individual in the calm of their own home, surrounded by their family members after they’ve made the decision.”

Christie Soaper, who said she too is terminally ill, says that is what she wants. Soaper explained, ” I take 18 medications a day. If I wanted to make a cocktail, I could’ve done it a long time ago. That’s not what I want. I want the dignity behind that.”

We asked if the bill has a chance in the Republican Majority Senate. Pierce said it may take a couple sessions for the bill to get the serious consideration it deserves. He wants to get the conversation started. He hopes this bill will do that.A previous version of this story indicated Matt Pierce is a Republican.  He is a Democrat.

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